The twists and turns of the lava-tube passageway had trapped light, making the corridor seem to be just another obsidian-dark stretch of cave. But one more step had taken him beyond the last bend of stone, where sunlight washed down over trees and blooming herbs like a glittering waterfall.
Kirito picked where he put his feet, afraid to stray off the subtle path worn into the underbrush. He didn’t have the Herbalism Skill, but he could identify a half-dozen rare plants for healing or magical components just glancing around. There was Nightbane, and Rattlesnake Master for treating venom damage, Royal Catchfly to ward off insect swarm mobs, Firepink whose tiny notched petals added bonuses to Fire effects….
And one bunch of vibrant azure blossoms that seemed to have sprouted from a curling sculpture of silver-white bark and wood.
Yggdrasil Shoots. The same as the Tree that holds up Aincrad. I’m in a Pixie Garden!
Kirito froze, not daring to move. Almost not daring to exist. Pixies were small mobs, generally armed with weapons no larger than needles. Apparently laughable, compared to the sheer mass and DPS of a level boss, or even a pack of Dagger Dogs.
Small mobs. Small, complex-AI, magic-using, beast taming mobs….
He’d rather be facing Illfang all over again. Kirito slowly scanned the upper branches of the trees surrounding this hidden glen, catching flutters that might be tiny wings. They could be anywhere. Scan might find them. A Detect spell might work better, if he’d had one, pixies were intrinsically magical… but then again, so were most of the herbs here.
And so is Stheno.
A double layer of concealment. And none of it by active magic.
This is important. It has to be. He gulped. Oh no. Argo’s going to kick herself for missing this…. This isn’t a quest. It’s a triggered event!
And he was alone. Wonderful. Klein was right; staying solo really was going to bite him.
Well, if I die, he’ll say “I told you so-”
“Cautious.” Stheno had faded out of the bushes at his side, as if the plants themselves had parted for her. “Wise. You should put this on, I think, before you take another step.” She held out a small ring of peacock-green and purple-copper feathers, and reached for his right hand.
He let her take it, curious and worried. She’d had plenty of chances to attack him already. And when something in a quest was stated as “you should”, that generally meant do this or quit the quest if you don’t want to die–
<<Stheno’s Gift: the Cockatrice Feather Ring.>>